A mecca of Mexican food, San Diegans express varying relationships to the neighboring South through food. With Tijuana just minutes away, food is a bridge between Mexico and the United States, a pivotal connection to our homeland. Here is a small preview of the many odes to Mexican food from this side of the border.
Las Cuatro Milpas
1857 Logan Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113
Food purists rejoice! Established in 1933 in the historic Barrio Logan, Las Cuatro Milpas is a no-frills joint that perfected its menu decades before many of us were born. Don’t overlook the unassuming exterior, the señora-run cash-only operation elicits the smells and memories of home. Menu items include tamales, rice, beans, and handmade flour tortillas.
Lucha Libre Taco Shop
3016 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
You can’t help but smile as you enter this hot pink luchador-themed eatery. The wall-to-wall pop art adds to the offbeat nature of the dining experience. Those familiar with San Diego classics like carne asada fries and California burritos will enjoy Lucha Libre’s riffs on these staples — try the Ado-Haba Pina California Burrito for a sweet and spicy take on the classic. For the full experience, book the Champion Ring booth, a reserved table set on a mini wrestling ring with a working microphone for service.
Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar
1026 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Often included in “best of” lists, Puesto is a family-owned and operated Mexican fast-casual eatery for La Jolla beachside tacos. Popular taco staples include tamarindo shrimp, chicken al pastor, filet mignon, and plenty of vegetarian options. Come on a Taco Tuesday for special prices and make sure to try their house-brewed beers.
Tacos El Gordo
689 H St, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Tacos El Gordo has some of the best Tijuana-style tacos north of the border. Their tacos and mulitas are built on small, double-stacked corn tortillas with their signature adobada meat shaved directly from spit-roasted cones. While the marinated pork is a customer favorite, this casual eatery offers seven other proteins, some less common to the area like tripa, buche, lengua, and suadero.
2540 Congress Street, San Diego, CA 92110
Industry veteran Chef Priscilla Curiel is putting tuetano on San Diegans’ radar. The titular marrowbone is served whole and meant to be scooped and spread like meaty butter atop birria tacos, tortas, and quesadillas. Curiel hones in on years of working at her family’s restaurants, running a catering company, and experiencing the food culture of Tijuana and Michoacan. Their roster of craft beers is equally impressive, with a selection from local Latine brewers like Border X Brewing and Mujeres Brew House to Mexican producers like Guadalajara’s La Loba and Monterrey’s Rrëy.